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Sheriff Bianco on high alert for Inauguration Day protests; says violent rioters will be stopped

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco has a stark warning for protestors planning on violence this Inauguration Day: they will be stopped.

Bianco said the Sheriff's Dept. is "aware of situations that may be planned or may be coming up in our area," and assured residents during a virtual town hall hosted by the Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce that he has "plenty of resources" to ensure safety for all.

"I can promise you that you will not experience here what we watched on TV in Washington," Bianco said. "When it makes that turn from peaceful to not, we will be there and we will be able to stop it quickly."

Bianco said he understands there is political and civil unrest right now, but draws a line between a peaceful protest and a violent one. "We want to limit the amount of damage of property damage, of loss of life, of injury, as much as we can," he said.

His goal, he said, is to mitigate damage while protecting people's right to protest.

"I may not like it but I will die defending somebody’s constitutional rights – whichever they are," Bianco said. "Particularly our First Amendment rights, it's everyone's First Amendment right to voice your opinion, to have your peaceful protests."

This summer, the Sheriff's Dept. dispersed a peaceful protest in Palm Desert as a countywide curfew set in.

Sheriff's deputies dispersed a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020.

Bianco said if violence does erupt, the Sheriff's Dept. will be several steps ahead.

"We are not going to let them have free reign," he said. "We’ll be in front of it from the beginning."

News Channel 3 checked in with other valley law enforcement agencies; all said they're keeping a close eye on any potential demonstrations as well.

Indio Police said at this time, no specific threats have been identified.

You can reach Jake on TwitterFacebook or email him at jake.ingrassia@kesq.com.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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